Bobby Beathard, Washington Hall of Fame Football Executive, Dies at 86

Bobby Beathard, Washington Hall of Fame Football Executive, Dies at 86

Bobby Beathard, an NFL executive who laid the foundation for seven Super Bowl teams during his Hall of Fame career, winning two titles in the 1980s as general manager of the Washington NFL franchise, died on January 30 at his home in Franklin, Tennessee. I was 86

The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease, his son Casey Beathard said.

With his blond pageboy haircut, the lean physique of a marathon runner, and the laid-back presence of a California surfer he had been since childhood, Beathard did not fit the archetype of a professional team executive. He refused to wear a tie and sports jacket, much less a suit, and his everyday outfit of shorts and sneakers or flip-flops gave him a certain jaunty affability.

But that outward appearance was deceptive. He was widely regarded as a master of sports administration, a skilled negotiator whose stolid demeanor masked intense preparation and an uncanny insight into the promise of many young players.

In a career that spanned nearly four decades in the NFL, his teams, primarily the Miami Dolphins, Washington and San Diego Chargers, have won 10 division titles, seven conference championships and four Super Bowls.

As head of the Miami Dolphins’ scouting operation from 1972 to 1977, he worked with Coach Don Shula to build the dolphin dynasty. In Mr. Beathard’s first season with the team, the Dolphins went undefeated and won the Super Bowl, an unprecedented feat in NFL history.

With Mr. Beathard as his talent coordinator, Shula guided the Dolphins to a collective 63-21 record with two Super Bowl trophies during Mr. Beathard’s six seasons in Miami. The team went 6-1 in the postseason.

“He’s a guy with a great eye for talent,” Shula later. saying Washington Post. “Nobody has a perfect record, and you’re going to make mistakes. But Bobby made fewer mistakes than most. And he found some kids for us that no one else would take a chance on. He was never afraid to take risks.”

His years in Washington, from 1978 to 1988, formed the centerpiece of his legacy, cementing his reputation as a peerless scout. It was a decade in which he hired little-known NFL assistant Joe Gibbs as head coach and built one of the league’s dominant franchises, making three trips to the Super Bowl and winning twice. At the end of his tenure in Washington (with the team now known as the Commanders), Sports Illustrated nicknamed Mr. Beathard the “smartest man in the NFL.”

When he arrived in Washington, the same year as the new head coach jack pardee, the team drew on the holdover veteran players, the so-called “Over-the-Hill Gang”, which had been the backbone of the lineup under recently deceased head coach George Allen. Despite the team’s 10-6 record in 1979, Mr. Beathard did not view this practice as an effective long-term strategy and advised team owner Jack Kent Cooke, against Pardee’s wishes, to build the team around younger players.

Cooke sided with Beathard, telling The Post that he “decided to endorse the show of a future Beathard winner.” Following a 1980 season with a 6-10 record, the team’s worst in years, Pardee was fired in an acrimonious conclusion to the matchup. At the time, Washington had also not made the playoffs in four years.

Weeks after Pardee’s departure, Beathard sought to reinvigorate the franchise by bringing in Gibbs, the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers who was beginning to make a name for himself with a strong passing-based offense. Mr. Beathard had to sell the inexperienced Gibbs to a skeptical Cooke.

“There’s a guy, and he’s the right guy. I’m sure, but he’ll have to believe me,” Beathard recounted to The Post in 2000. “He said ‘Who is he?’ He said, ‘Joe Gibbs’. He said, ‘Who the hell is Joe Gibbs? I’ve never heard of him. He kept telling him, ‘You’re going to have to trust me,’ and he kept saying, ‘They’re going to crucify us if he’s not the right guy.'”

When Gibbs began his first season in 1981 with five straight losses, there were loud complaints among Washington sports fans. But Mr. Beathard never hesitated to support his untested new coach. The following season, under Gibbs, the team won the Super Bowl.

In an age before the internet and advanced metrics, Mr. Beathard was lauded for his instinctive talent-discovering abilities. “Bobby Beathard changed the way people looked at players,” Clark Judge, a longtime NFL writer and columnist, said in a 2022 interview for this obituary. “It wasn’t just the measurables. He had intuition and would take chances with people that others wouldn’t.”

He developed a network of scouts across the country who tipped him off to potential NFL-ready college players, and he shunned first-round draft picks, trading them to rack up picks from later rounds in the draft. He believed there was a surplus of good players that others missed and that he identified by going on tour, usually alone, and watching them play in person.

In his years in Washington, he used the team’s first-round pick just three times. The 1983 Super Bowl champion team included 26 free agents signed by Mr. Beathard.

“Bobby could look past a 4.4 time or a 39-inch vertical jump and tell you if the guy was a player,” Jon Arnett, a former professional running back for the Los Angeles Rams and friend, told Sports Illustrated in 1988. “Anyone scouts can time or take a tape and measure a jump, which is what 90 percent of them do. We all knew that Bobby would find the guys really competitive, because he was very competitive himself.

In the 1981 draft, Mr. Beathard selected future Pro Bowlers like guard Russ Grimm, defensive pass-rusher Dexter Manley and wide receiver Charlie Brown in later rounds. That same year, he signed undrafted lineman Joe Jacoby, who earned four Pro Bowl selections.

When using his first-round pick, Beathard found players like Hall of Famer wide receiver Art Monk and cornerback Darrell Green, and Pro Bowl offensive tackle Mark May. May, Grimm and Jacoby were key members of the renowned “Hogs” offensive line that became one of the best in NFL history.

When asked about his intuition, Mr. Beathard, a former college star at Cal Poly, told the Canton, Ohio Repository: “Even in college he seemed to have an idea of ​​who the really good players on our team were. Whether it’s loving the game, playing it, watching it. I don’t know what it was.”

Mr. Beathard left Washington for San Diego after the 1988 season, but Washington won another Super Bowl in 1992 packed with players from the Beathard era. He made the only Super Bowl team out of San Diego (now the Los Angeles Chargers), which lost the 1995 game.

As the third general manager inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018, Beathard was introduced by Gibbs, who was enshrined in the Hall 22 years before Beathard. “In the NFL, you’re measured by Super Bowls,” Gibbs said. “The bottom line was if you signed Bobby Beathard, you got Super Bowls.”

For all his football scouting success, Mr. Beathard made one of the biggest draft mistakes in NFL history in 1998, when he selected quarterback Ryan Leaf to the Chargers. Leaf was out of the league for three years and was later convicted on robbery and drug charges. An NFL documentary proclaimed him “the No. 1 draft bust” in NFL history.

“During my career, I’ve never seen a player with this much talent do so little with him,” Mr. Beathard told ESPN.

Robert King Beathard Jr. was born in Zanesville, Ohio on January 24, 1937. His father ran a tile factory and his mother was a homemaker. At 4, the family moved to El Segundo, California, near Los Angeles. His home was half a mile from the Pacific Ocean, where Bobby surfed and swam. By age 11, he had earned a rack full of swimming medals, but soccer was where he excelled.

As a sophomore at El Segundo High, he became the starting single-wing running back, and despite his comparatively diminutive stature (5-foot-9, 170 pounds), received a football scholarship to Louisiana State University. . Before the season began, he became so homesick that he returned to California and enrolled in El Camino Junior College for a year.

At California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, he became the starting quarterback and defenseman for the 1957 and 1958 seasons, during which the team went 9-1 each year. Among his companions was John Maddenfuture NFL Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster.

Mr. Beathard was “one of those really tough, tough guys,” Madden told The Post in 1981. “He was little, but he could really throw the ball. Lots of guts.

Mr. Beathard’s younger brother, Pete, also became a star college quarterback at the University of Southern California, leading the Trojans to the national title in 1962. He went on to have a long professional football career.

Undrafted after graduation, Bobby Beathard signed with Washington as a free agent, but it didn’t last long. After a brief stint selling insurance and chemical supplies, he became a part-time scout in 1963 with the Kansas City Chiefs, working in the western states. One of his finds for Kansas City was kicker Jan Stenerud, who kicked for the Chiefs in 13 of his 19 seasons and is one of four kickers selected for the Hall of Fame.

Beginning in 1968, he signed with the Atlanta Falcons, where he continued to spend weeks on the road. That led to the dissolution of his first marriage, to Larae Rich, with whom he had four children.

In 1978, Mr. Beathard married Christine Van Handel, a flight attendant. In addition to his wife, four children survive from his first marriage, Kurt, Jeff, Casey, and Jaime; his brother; and 13 grandchildren, including CJ Beathard, quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars; and seven great-grandchildren. Another grandson, Clayton Beathard, was killed outside a Nashville bar in 2019.

A passionate surfer and serious marathoner whose best time was an impressive 2 hours 30 minutes, Mr. Beathard missed meetings so he could participate in his training runs. But soccer continued to be his consumption engine.

Her devotion to the game was graphically illustrated when she married Van Handel at a friend’s house in Marina Del Ray, California. The wedding was delayed because Mr. Beathard and his friends were upstairs watching an exhibition game between the Los Angeles Rams and Oakland Raiders.

At halftime, she ran downstairs to attend her wedding, and was back upstairs before the marching band left the field.

“It was the fastest wedding I’ve ever seen,” Ted Grossman, a Hollywood stuntman and close friend, told the Los Angeles Times. “I was turning around when Bobby was putting the ring on Christine’s finger. The next thing I know, we’re going to go back upstairs to watch the game.

“I remember Christine saying, ‘Will it always be like this?’ Bobby said, ‘I’m afraid so.’

#Bobby #Beathard #Washington #Hall #Fame #Football #Executive #Dies

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *